Trigger warning: this post deals with family violence and murder.
It was a hot summer afternoon and Rosie’s eleven year old son, Luke, was playing in the cricket nets with his father, Greg Anderson. Without warning and with Rosie waiting nearby, Anderson beat Luke with a bat and stabbed him to death with a knife.
At the time of the murder, Anderson was facing eleven criminal charges and there were two apprehended violence orders out against him.
The justice system had let Rosie Batty down.
But she stood up.
She stood up and she spoke out. She told the media outside her house, “I want to tell everybody that family violence happens to everybody. No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are. It can happen to anyone, and everyone.”
From that day, Rosie Batty has spoken honestly and openly about the years that she spent trying to escape a violent relationship and trying to manage her son’s interactions with his father.
She has given speeches, made public appearances, led marches and spoken to the media and politicians. At a time when many others would have crumpled, Rosie Batty drew strength from her pain.
When our nation wanted to turn away, she made us look. She made us pay attention.
Last night, Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year.
This award has been presented to Rosie Batty for her remarkable work and everything that she has achieved in the past year.
But this Australia Day Award is particularly important. It is not just an award for Rosie Batty. It is an award for so many other people.
It is an award for the generations of women who have suffered at the hands of the people who should cherish them the most.
It is an award for the women today who feel fear in the one place that they should feel most safe and the most protected.
It is an award for the women who carry an impossible burden of shame and guilt because they haven’t been able to protect their children from harm.
It is an award for women who have left violent relationships and are now facing a desperately vulnerable time as they try to seek help from the courts and from police.
It is an award for the Indigenous women and the women living with disabilities who are at even greater risk of violence, every day.
It is an award for the women who are homeless because they lost everything when they ran from one nightmare, only to be confronted by another.
It is an award for women who work in family violence sector who help to lift women up when they have nowhere else to go.
It is an award for every parent and every child who is facing the unfathomable grief of losing a loved one through family violence.